The Atlanta Braves pulled off a stunning move in the first trade of the GM Winter Meetings in Orlando, trading for Dan Uggla. Although the fact that Uggla was on the market was not surprising, what the Braves gave up seems to be much smaller in impact to what many expected.
Most in Atlanta were upset that the Braves were going to trade for Uggla, with most assuming that either Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado were going to be dealt, along with a Major Leaguer.
But this was not the case, as the Braves acquired Uggla for Omar Infante and Mike Dunn. Omar Infante, an All-Star in 2010, put up a .321/.356/.416 line in a super utility role. His loss will greatly impact the Braves, as a utility player is now needed. Also part of the deal was left hander Mike Dunn, a young reliever who impressed in his 2010 campaign with a 2-0, 1.89 ERA, 27 SO line.
What the Braves lost in this deal is not close to what they received, although time will tell. Infante had a pivotal role in Atlanta making the playoffs in 2010, and Mike Dunn was projected to carry a setup role into the 2011 season.
The return the Braves received is perfect with one exception. The right handed power bat of Dan Uggla will help protect Chipper Jones in his return in 2011 and provide power that the Braves lacked. The one exception is the fact that Uggla is only under contract for one year, meaning the Braves will need to try and sign him long term.
Looking at the Braves lineup, Uggla should be inserted in between Jones and McCann:
- Martin Prado, R
- Jason Heyward, L
- Chipper Jones, S
- Dan Uggla, R
- Brian McCann, L
- Alex Gonzalez, R
- Freddie Freeman, L
- Nate McLouth, L
This creates a great lineup in terms of power, balance of left and right-handedness, and on base ability. We can expect at least 60 home runs from the heart of the order, a great amount.
The Braves next steps this winter will now be to find two utility players, and also two relievers, including a veteran presence. However, we should all be thankful to Frank Wren that he didn't completely revamp the Marlins farm system like the Teixiera trade.
Also in my opinion, I believe the Braves will have a much better chance at signing Uggla long term than they did Teixiera. Uggla turned down a four year, $48 million deal from the Marlins because he was reportedly seeking a guaranteed fifth year; if this is the case, the Braves should be able offer him a five year, $60-65 million deal.